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Inquiry into Australia's Human Rights Framework

The Law Council of Australia provided a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (PJCHR) in response to the inquiry into Australia’s Human Rights Framework.

The Law Council refreshed and reissued its policy position in favour of a Federal Human Rights Act in 2020 (Charter Policy).1 It is the Law Council’s position that the introduction of such an Act2 would be a positive step towards better protection of human rights in Australia. Several of the Law Council’s Constituent Bodies have expressed support for the Charter Policy, and some have been able to share first-hand experience of the benefits of Human Rights Acts in their jurisdiction.3

In 2009, the National Human Rights Consultation Committee (Consultation Committee) led by Father Frank Brennan SJ AO, produced a report which led to the adoption of the first National Human Rights Framework (2010 Framework).4 Many of the key ‘planks’ of the 2010 Framework have not been retained over the past 13 years—the legislative scrutiny regime and annual NGO Forum are the main surviving ones.


1 LCA, Federal Human Rights Charter: Policy Position, November 2020: <https://www.lawcouncil.asn.au/resources/policies-and-guidelines/federal-human-rights-charter>.
2 The terms ‘Human Rights Charter’ and ‘Human Rights Act’ used in this submission are to be read as equivalent.
3 An overview of Constituent Bodies’ views is set out in Part I of this submission, and their views are also reflected in the detailed commentary in Part II.
4 A copy of the 2010 Framework is available from the NSW Bar Association: <https://nswbar.asn.au/circulars/2010/april/hr.pdf>.

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